Better off Friends

Page 14


SMILE! I didn’t know what else to do. I had to play a role, a happier version of myself so he wanted to still spend time with me.
Levi took my silence as an invitation to continue. “Yeah, so I was also kinda hoping you could help me pick out something for Emily.”
“Oh, awesome!” Levi replied.
Even though I didn’t say anything, my stupid grin made it seem like I’d be more than happy to help him pick out a gift.
Levi led me to a jewelry store. “You’re so cool. I didn’t know if it’d be weird to ask you. But who knows Emily better than you?”
He had a point. I didn’t understand why I was freaking out over this. He was still the same Levi. It had only been a matter of time before one of us would start dating somebody. And in a way, this would stop people from thinking we were an item.
“Of course I’ll help pick something,” I conceded. “What were you thinking?”
“Well, I was here last week with my mom and saw this necklace and wanted to get your opinion.” He led me over to a glass case full of different silver and gold necklaces. He pointed to one that was in the middle. “This one, but with an E.”
My heart dropped when I saw which one he was referring to. It was a silver necklace with a small round pendant with the letter P engraved on it.
I took a few steps back. It felt like the floor was unsteady.
I heard Levi asking me if I was okay, but I couldn’t concentrate. Everything around me was a blur. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, I couldn’t really do anything.
“I can’t breathe, I need to …” I stumbled out of the store and quickly sat on the floor near a fountain. I put my head between my knees and tried to steady my breath.
“Macallan, what’s wrong?” Levi’s voice cracked. “Please, talk to me.”
Sobs started to come out. I had trouble catching my breath. I needed to breathe. I needed to calm down and breathe.
But I couldn’t. Just when I thought I was getting better, something always knocked me on my side. And it was always, always when I least expected it.
“Macallan?” He took out his phone. “Mr. Dietz, I’m with Macallan, I don’t know what’s going on. I think she’s having some sort of panic attack.”
Not my father, I thought. Please don’t bring my dad into this.
I somehow found the strength to reach out and touch Levi’s leg.
“Wait, she’s getting my attention.” Levi kneeled down. “Your dad wants to talk to you.”
Levi lifted the receiver to my ear. “Calley, sweetie, what is it?” My father’s voice was so worried. I hated that I was doing this to him. “Please talk to me.”
“It … was …” I tried to calm myself down, but hearing Dad’s voice made it worse. I took a deep breath. “Tell him about the necklace.”
It was all I could get out, but enough for Dad to understand.
I watched Levi listen to what Dad was telling him. His face went white.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” His voice was so low and quiet. “I didn’t know.” I couldn’t tell if he was apologizing to Dad or me. Probably both.
Of course he didn’t know. How could he have? How could he have known that my mom had worn a very similar necklace with the letter M that my dad gave her the day they brought me home from the hospital? How could he have known that she wore it every single day? How could he have known that she died wearing it? That she was buried with it?
Levi hung up the phone and sat down next to me. He put his arm around me, and I leaned against his shoulder. “Your dad is on his way. I’m so sorry, Macallan. I’m so sorry that I didn’t know. I’m so sorry that I had to remind you of something so hurtful. I’m so sorry I don’t know how to help you with this big part of your life. If it’s even possible. I’m so sorry that I don’t know what to say right now.”
He paused for a second, but just having him there, having him near me, was what I needed. “I know I’ve been a total idiot lately and haven’t really been around. And I’m sorry for that, too. I know I don’t know a lot, but what I do know is that I’m going to be here. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, you know you can count on me, don’t you? Nothing will ever change that. Nothing. You do know that, right?”
I don’t think I truly knew it for sure until that very instant. And even though my heart was being ripped apart by the memory of my mother, I let Levi’s kind gesture help patch it.
I realized it was time for Levi to meet someone.
We were bundled up as we made our way up the hill. Levi had been quiet on the ride over. I wasn’t sure how he would react, but I knew it was time for me to open up to him.
We approached our destination. Levi a few paces behind me, his head down.
“Levi, I’d like you to meet my mom.” I stood next to her gray marble gravestone. “Mom, this is Levi. I told you about him.” I brushed off some of the snow that was on top of the stone.
“Hi,” Levi said softly.
“Come sit.” I took out a blanket and laid it on the cold ground. “I wanted to bring you here so I could tell you a little about my mom.” My voice started to quiver. This was what I’d been afraid of. It was really hard to talk about Mom without getting sad. But the therapist I saw after she died said it was important for me to talk about her. To share my memories of her with other people.